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Conversation With: The Shrine Chatting with one of the heaviest bands of our time

“I WAS LOOKING FOR A SINGER FOR A WHILE AND AS SOON AS THE THREE OF US JAMMED TOGETHER I WAS LIKE, ‘FUCK, THE THREE OF US CAN MAKE ENOUGH NOISE AND HAVE BIG ENOUGH AMPS THAT WE DON’T REALLY NEED ANOTHER PERSON OR ANOTHER OPINION IN THE MIX.” – THE SHRINE, 2015

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What Youth: how long have you guys been together as a band?

The Shrine: Almost seven years, since 2008. 2008 was when we first started jamming, early 2009 was our first show at Time Warp Guitar Shop on Venice Blvd.

And then you guys were “The Shrine”?

We didn’t have a name yet and we hadn’t played a show yet and the owner of the guitar shop was like, ‘I’m moving next door and I want to have a party and I’m thinking about having some bands play,’ and I was like, ‘Shit, okay this is it. Let’s figure it out,’ and we came up with it in time for the show.

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What happened at that show? After that, were you like, ‘We’re a band?’

Yeah. The show went really well. When we first started jamming we had no game plan. I didn’t think I was going to be the singer, I was looking for a singer for a while and as soon as the three of us jammed together I was like, ‘Fuck, the three of us can make enough noise and have big enough amps that we don’t really need another person or another opinion or schedule in this mix.’ And I just decided by will to try and learn how to sing and I’m still learning but here we are.

“HE [DAVID JERDEN] WALKED INTO OUR STUDIO AND ONE OF THE VERY FIRST CONVERSATIONS WE HAD, HE BROUGHT UP, ‘YOU KNOW WHAT… SOME OF THE RIFFS YOU GUYS ARE PLAYING REMIND ME OF CAPTAIN BEYOND. AND I WAS LOOKING TO HEAVEN, LIKE, ’THANK YOU! THANK YOU!’HE GETS EXACTLY WHERE WE’RE COMING FROM.”

What are you guys working on now?

We’re recording our third full-length album with producer David Jerden who went into the guitar shop we were just talking about and asked if there were any rock ‘n roll bands left, cause he hasn’t heard any in a while. And our friend Chris at the store put on our record and Dave called us up and said, ‘I heard your record at Time Warp, I want to make your next one.’ And since then he’s been coming over to where we’ve been practicing for the last few months and he fit right in. We hardly let anyone into the studio unless they live there, or they’re neighbors, but Jerden stepped right in and was telling us things we wouldn’t listen to other people about and it was a group effort to get to this point and so we’re here now.

What is Jerden’s background? What other stuff has he produced?

He made a lot of big records in the 90s, stuff that’s not exactly our vibe, but the guy knows his way around a studio beyond belief and has worked with everybody–it’ll blow your mind. Every time he comes in he’s got a Frank Sinatra story or Rolling Stones story. He’s made Alice in Chains and Jane’s Addiction and The Offspring’s biggest albums, but when he walked into our studio one of the very first conversations we had, he brought up, ‘You know what some of the riffs you guys are playing remind me of Captain Beyond. And I was looking to heaven, like, ‘Thank you, thank you!’ He gets exactly where we’re coming from.

Thats amazing. Captain beyond is so good. 

And so far, we’ve seen pretty eye to eye. He’s like, ‘We’re gonna do this on a tape machine, you can’t get that fucking sound in Pro Tools, I want the drums to sound heavy, I want everything to have that weight on it like real records do.

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What about touring? When was your last tour and do you have one coming up?

We’re going to Australia in ten days. One thing to think about, when you asked about the first show, was that was our accomplishment. It was insane to play our first show and our goals around there were like, ‘Okay we played our first show, can we get a second one? Is anybody going to book us?’ And I’d sit on Craigslist or go to shows and talk to people and hand out burned CD demos. I was buying blank CDs by the hundred and burning the demo. We’d sit in my bedroom and photocopy a picture of us and just fold it up and put it over the CD and go hand that out wherever we could. Yeah, we’d leave them in a pile on the floor next to LA Weekly at Amoeba and hoped somebody would pick it up and our goals were like, ‘Oh, man can we get a t-shirt made? Can we get more shows? How are we going to get another show?’ We had such a hook up, the guitar shop just let us play. We just worked at it everyday and things snowballed to the point where I met this guy Sioshi, who runs Felem Skates in Japan while skating a pool in my neighborhood, The Gonzalez Pool in Mar Vista, and he was there just shooting photos. He had a Japan crew skating with him and afterwards he’s like, “Oh, do you think I could buy some Shrine CDs?’ He emailed me and bought a few and pretty soon he was buying skateboards from us and t shirts and pretty soon he’s like, ‘I wanna bring Shrine to Japan.’ And it just totally grew to the point where we had the best tour of our lives that he invited us to and took us on and absolutely had our minds blown by Japan.

You can never predict that. Are there any other struggles you experienced after your start? Does it seem like there are new problems that come about?Well we do a lot of stuff ourselves. We print our own shirts and handle our own merch and book a lot of our shows ourselves and our tours. The more we go on the more exterior people want to get involved and have a vision of how they could help or take a percentage and it’s kind of crazy, the music industry that we’ve tried to stay away from is just full of sharks, it’s like any story you’ve ever heard.  

It seems like you guys have a pretty tight knit family.

Luckily, when we first started, a couple shows in or whatever, we were able to make friends with people like Chuck Dukowski. We were kind of in the scene with a lot of psychedelic bands from Venice that were already a family and we kind of fit into that in an odd way, but it worked and everybody was cool. Just the music and the artwork and everything else has been an evolution of things and it’s gone in a really positive direction and we couldn’t have gotten where we are now without the thing before it, and so on and so forth, so hooking up with those early bands and going on tour with Chuck for the very first time, it was like once you get to a certain point, it’s almost like it just keeps going and going as long as you just don’t give up, as long as you just keep doing what you’ve always done.

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